One Of The Better Pairings…

PastaDinner2

A great wine paired with a great dinner is something that never gets old.  As a matter of fact it can always feel new, can feel fresh, and can feel inspired if you well, feel it.

Easy said and easy done…

It doesn’t get more authentic than a great pasta dish paired with a great Italian wine.  An added  bonus is when the wine is affordable yet so great for the price, that you almost might feel guilty.  Don’t.  It’s good to find the best deals in anything without having to look too hard.

MasciarelliWine2

The 2015 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Masciarelli is one of those wines that you’re going to find in a lot of places, and hopefully you’ve had the good fortune of trying it.  Sadly for me, it’s one of those wines (like many others) that I always see and unintentionally would take for granted.  It’s not deliberate.  There’s just so many great wines to try that while we have all the time in the world, it’s important to make the most of it.  And that goes for everything.

You’re going to taste your berries, cherries, and various spices but for a wine like this, like many others, that’s just one part of the story.  What’s most important is this a wine you’re going to enjoy?  Both things, among others, are connected.  I can safely say the answer yes.  Yes this is a wine that’s accessible, approachable, and affordable.  Those are some great things that start with the letter ‘a’.

MasciarelliWine

It’s also your typical wine you’ll find served at Italian restaurants, which in turn means great Italian meals and dinners, and could easily be served at an all around amazing feast near you.  I can imagine that it’s being served at a dinner near you, near me, and all around the world, as I write this, and as you read this.  It’s that versatile and that awesome of a wine.  There’s another ‘a” for you!

As it gets colder, the medium and fuller bodied wines are going to take shape.  Thankfully this is right in the middle of what could also feel like a light wine, depending on the meal, your mood, and the season.   Those are the fun details that can make a good wine into a great wine, and a good meal into an exceptional one.  This is so fun.

I mentioned affordable.  I’ve seen this wine sold for anywhere from $9-$12, and that’s a steal.   This tastes like a $15+ wine to me.  It may be for the aura it carries, the aura I sense, or just my gut reaction to it.  Your gut will always be your guide and never steer you wrong.

PastaDinner

What a great pairing of wine and food this was.  My meal was just as beautiful as it looks.  This was comfort at it’s most comfortable and beautiful.

MasciarelliWineWithFood

As we head towards the holidays, these are the kind of meals you’re going to encounter more if you haven’t already.  These are the wines that go with them, and hopefully you surround yourself with the best company as well.

I’m grateful to have shared this with a friend, and look forward to many more exciting times to come, before, during, and after the holidays.  It’s still early November, so one glass, and one meal at a time…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

…Is All That I’ve Ever Known

WineDisplay

What am I talking about here?   Wait what…

I know what I like and while it evolves, I still know what I like.  While palates change, tastes change, and life changes, your gut is still your guide.  And your gut will never let you down.  It didn’t let me down and I still went against it.  So you can imagine the results.

The first wine was already opened by my friends at a friendly neighborhood bar/restaurant and it was stellar.

The 2016 Black’s Station Yolo County Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Matchbook Wines is one of the lighter variations of this wine I’ve had in a while.  If I did a blind test I wouldn’t know most wines from the other.  Well maybe I would.  No, not everything, but enough.  After drinking enough wine you’re going to pick up some things.  It’s what makes this so fun.  It’s not something to force upon yourself or anyone else.   Am I talking about wine, or anything in general?  That’s up to you and me to decide.  But it’s all relative.

BlacksStationCabernetSauvignon

This wine is great and at around $12, it’s worth it’s weight in so much.  It just felt like the right wine for a transition into the season.  It hurts me to say that but that’s where we are.  It just felt right and while I tasted some spices, and the berries, and maybe some other indescribable hidden gems.

Most of all, it tasted good.  And being in a place that felt safe, felt comfortable, yet a bit of an unknown enhanced that experience.  No food, no loud noises, no shouting over anyone to be heard was necessary.  It was where I was and where I was supposed to be that matter.   I wish I could’ve ended it like that.  And I still might try too…

Things went a little south here.  I wish I could say otherwise.  The Red Blend from Rhiannon just felt like it was there. It was a label I’ve had before, and while I wasn’t sure, the fact that I vaguely remember should have immediately given me a warning sign.

Just because something isn’t so memorable doesn’t mean it’s not great, profound, or heck even memorable.   Sometimes it goes deep into our subconscious for later discussion, or never again.

Well I wouldn’t want to say never again.  I’m not sure what else there is to say.  I think I recall purchasing this bottle for under $10 so I can’t complain there.  And having these bottles at half price on a weekday night is something to be grateful for.   The glass is more than half full on this one.  There just wasn’t much that stood out about the wine.  Like I’ve said before, if a wine is terrible, or if anything is terrible, there might more to talk about.  This makes me sad to say but this is as mediocre as it gets.

I’ll keep the focus on and end with the Black’s Station Cabernet, as it was beautiful.  I’ve never seen it in stores, and now that I’ve discovered I hope to.  I hope you can find it too!  For it’s a treasure alright.  While there’s plenty of amazing wines and even the best ones are never found out, or get lost in the shuffle, this is one worth going after.

That’s all I know…. For now…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

I’m Ready For Summer

LavignoneRose3

I mean that.  Technically on the calendar we’re still here.  We’re all right here…

Fall is wonderful.  It means festivals, a smell and crispness in the air, and still plenty of reasons to be outside and enjoy life.  Yeah that life thing.  It’s alright.

While it’s still hot and there’s still plenty of daylight, the lighter wines, the whites, and of course the rosé.   I’ve got time to talk about more rosé.  See, as much as the seasons all have a place, I love summer.  I’m ready for summer.

LavignoneRoseBottle

The Lavignone Rosato was amongst the many choices I was looking at.  Actually no, let me know sound so serious.   It’s the one that stood out, because of the label, and because I knew nothing about it.  I don’t know about a lot of these wines.  And I don’t have to either.

Like any other situation, the mood I’m in, the setting, the feeling, and all those other little things that either do or don’t exist play a role in how a wine is going to taste, and how it’s going to make you feel.

LavignoneRose1

I’m still processing this one.  I’m still processing a lot of things.

At the same time, it’s not that serious.  At $15 this is bit of a splurge, but nothing out of sorts.  If it wasn’t for the flowers, I don’t know what I would think.  Yes I said flowers!

LavignoneRoseDisplay

The whole process of helping plant flowers is similar in how wine become well, a pretty bottle and label such as this.

Now there’s nothing life altering about this wine.  I’ve never looked at rosé in that way.  However, like flowers, the smells of summer is the main draw.  The synopsis mentions strawberry, watermelon, cranberry, and fresh cut grass.  Those would be the aromas, not necessarily the tastes.   I think I tasted grass once when I was a kid and I don’t remember it being good.

LavignoneRose2

This wine is ok.  I wouldn’t say it’s amazing.  I go back-and-forth on it.  As I’m writing this out, my heart is telling me something it wasn’t when I actually had a glass.  You may love it and that’s awesome.  My mind and heart are in contrasting places, and that’s a good thing, as much as that sounds confusing.

If I spent $10 on this label, I might have a different opinion.   As much as the display of flowers and colors is lively, full of life, and ready for the fall season, there are plenty of other grapes of all kinds that are going to be a bit more inspirational.

I mentioned how I was processing my thoughts on this wine, and my feelings may be unraveling as I share this with you. But I really don’t know what to say. Maybe it’s the change of the seasons and the place I’m in at the moment, but something isn’t completely adding up.   Maybe I’m ready for the medium bodied reds, or more of the whites I’ve grown to like and love.

Maybe I’m just not in love with this wine and that’s ok too.  There’s so many to choose from.  And as much as I or we want to see the good in everything, it’s good to see faults too.  Because those faults are sometimes those most endearing qualities.

No need to over analyze everything.  Some things just don’t need a further explanation.

It’s going to be a great rest of the year, and a great time to try wines (which is anytime) is just around the corner.   I’m all for a roadblock or two here to put things back in perspective.

LavignoneRose4

The best is yet to come and the best is in the present…

Love,

Ideen

 

Drawing A Blank Here…

SabeoVerdejoFirePit

Well, yes and no.  Yesterday was a bit goofy for me.  This past week or so has been a bit goofy for me.  I can attribute that to anything.   But in the beginning and the end, we have control over how he handle experiences and situations that are thrown at us.  Life throws us a lot of things.  We adapt, persevere, and we sometimes say everything is going to be ok.

I keep telling myself that, but I have to feel it too.  Where did the summer go?  I’m already seeing pumpkin stuff slowly showing up, and that worries me, to the point I forget about all the things I said in the first paragraph.

This is still summer, and I’m going to be talking about these kinds of spiritually healing and fulfilling wines for as long as it feels right and it feels right.  Yes, I know what I just said.

So as to not be overwhelmed, I shared this bottle with good friends and with good food.  That’s a recurring theme of this, and of life.

And to be able to sit outside while the weather is still in our favor is a testament to the good in this universe.

When I spotted this beautiful label of an owl at one of my favorite wine shoppes, The Wine Source, at the sale price of $8, it would be a catastrophe if I didn’t grab one, at least.

SabeoVerdejoOwl

The Verdejo wine from Sabeo out of Rueda, Spain looked amazing on the surface, which can lead to all kinds of mixed results. But I had a sense about this.  The golden crisp color of the wine evoked positive energy, without ever even opening the bottle.  And whatever you think of owls, you can’t help but think this is one of the more artistic and stand out labels you’re going to see.

SabeoVerdejo

But as we all know, a label is not going to tell you anything about how the wine tastes.  That’s too idealistic and too much of a beginner way of thinking.  However, in many ways this journey of my love for wine will always make me feel like a beginner.

Thankfully, everything I said earlier is true.  This is a marvel, and for how little I paid for it, I felt like I was stealing.  Regular price goes for about $10, yet I would pay more for this.

This can be savored alone, with great company, and with great food.  All the generalities in life do apply, but mainly the positive ones.

If memory serves me correctly, this is the first time I’ve ever had this grape.  I’m so happy this is how it begins for me, and I feel spoiled and blessed in many ways. There’s flavors of lemon, lime, and maybe a hint of melon in this wine that could make many non-wine drinkers even a fan.  It just has that aura yet welcoming feel about it.  It’s approachable, endearing, and it’s a heck of a wine.

SabeoVerdejoWineWithFood

Versatility is important in life, and definitely helps with pairing wine and food.  This wine has it all.  It complemented this amazing meal of chicken & vegetable kabobs cooked over the grill, along with homemade Tzatziki that it brought back memories of childhood, family, and happiness that transcend any headaches and complaints I referenced earlier.

SabeoVerdejoFirePit2

And a larger-than-life firepit always helps….

These are memories that will be ongoing, as new ones are created and nostalgia sets in immediately.  Living in the moment yet appreciating everything that’s going on makes anything, including a wonderful dinner, that much more of a notable place and time.

I’ve spent many dinners with my friends (and written about many, not all…) and I’m so grateful that the stories keep growing, evolving, yet the constant of joy, happiness, and harmony remain.

SabeoVerdejoFlowers

Sometimes drawing then filling in the blanks is just fine..

To many more.

Salud.

Ideen

Keep That Momentum..

13.5Wine&Food

I can count the times on one, maybe two hands that I’ve been to 13.5% Wine Bar in the always enjoyable Hampden neighborhood in Baltimore.

13.5WineBar

That number just went up and is going to continue to go up if each visit is like the last one.   Every time I’ve been here I’ve always felt comfortable sitting at the bar outside, whether it’s with people or by myself.  The first time I visited was over six years ago, and I came here purposely alone.  I loved everything about it, and while company is great, so can be solitude.

This time I had a friend join me, but not before our bartender Mackenzie (big thanks to her for her hospitality and kindness) had me try three wines on the spot.  An impromptu tasting will always make me happy.  Maybe I made a wish to the universe and three bottles magically showed up.

13.5TheWines

Here are the three : The 2017 Pato Frio “Cashmere” Rosé; the 2016 Chalk Hill “Wits End” Vermentino, which is a new varietal and grape for me out of Australia, and my favorite the 2016 Three Brooms Riesling.

RieslingGlass

They’re all good to great with the Riesling having the most character, boldness, and structure.  To me it tastes more like a Sauvignon Blanc, and the tasting notes would say the same.  I don’t usually appreciate Riesling’s, but this was so good that a few 3 oz. pours would say I truly loved this wine.

Yes, 3 oz. pours make it easier to try multiple wines at even more reasonable prices.   I stuck with my Riesling, and kept that momentum going.  Even per other recommendations, I wanted to stick with what made me happy.

I haven’t seen these wines sold anywhere near me, so this seems to be the place to have them, for now…

I appreciate the honesty and transparency of what these wines would cost at retail.  I don’t recall if I’ve seen menus like this anywhere else.  It’s welcome to see.  This is new to me, but it’s a detail that’ll keep me coming back.

13.5Food

My friend and I had a good time catching up, talking about important things, talking about absurd things, and then nothing at all.  The small plates were great, and in a way symbolizes that the little things are the big things, and that’s what matters.

13.5MenuSnacks

Something about 13.5 has always brought joy to me.  It’s a getaway within a city.  If I want to be around people I don’t know, or don’t always see it’s perfect.  I like the anonymity and a different part of the city that while I do explore, I don’t explore enough.

The weather was perfect and ideal for sitting outside, but then the chances of a tasting and who knows what else may not have happened.  It’s all about location and timing, and I think, no I know, the decisions were made right.

You can’t force these things.  You can’t force good times and you can’t force your hand.  Being in the right place, at the right time, with a little divine faith is all you need.  And the universe will do the rest.

The universe looked out for us here.  This was tremendous in all areas.

Rosé and whites have slowly been done, with so many more to try.  There’s still the reds. There’s still plenty of time to try them all, but that journey will be done slowly, surely, and effortlessly.  Well maybe not too slow.

13.5TheWineBottles

This is to be continued, as we keep that momentum…

Salud.

Ideen

A Peaceful Day In Annapolis

PerrinReserveRose&Hummus2

How often do you got a second to yourself?   If you allow it, I bet we have more time to all the things we want, then we realize.  It’s an ongoing thing, this thing of ours.  No not that kind of thing of ours, but life.   Life is good, and going to the places that make you feel good is what this life is all about.

Annapolis makes me feel good.  Actually it’s the mood I’m in that decides whether or not a place is going to make you happy.   But the setting helps.

For my past history with wine in Annapolis, go here.

49westfront

I’ve been to 49 West (here is more about them, their menu, live music calendar, and contact information) several times, and  wrote about it once, in a different universe. and without going back and rereading it, I’m sure many of the same sentiments will appear.

It’s easy to explain this place but then it’s not.   It’s coffee, wine, food, community, live music, and everything in between.  I haven’t had the privilege of seeing any bands or solo artists play live, but I look forward to it, and I imagine the setting makes it all the more intimate than it already is.

I also haven’t gotten to appreciate all the food and drink that’s at our disposal.

When the weather gets to be where it is (and I’m not complaining, I’m embracing) the food preferences will change, and the lighter the more necessary.  I think that makes sense…

PerrinReserveRose&Hummus

I’m in the mood for hummus and pita bread.  I’m always in the mood for that.  And the presentation was beautiful.  It’s hard to mess up hummus.  This was good, and by no means can I compare it to anywhere else.  It’s hummus and it’s good, it’s satisfying, and I like to tell myself I’m eating healthy.   The carrots and celery told me so.

PerrinReserveRose

There was a sign outside saying it’s Rosé time.  You may have heard.

I wanted to make this as uncomplicated as possible and I’m thankful the Rosé by the glass is the Famille Perrin Reserve, and it’s about as standard and basic as it gets.

PerrinReserveRose2

I’ve written highly about their Rhone in the past, and how it’s one help make me love wine the way I do.  This however is nothing special.  Yes this is a glass that’s just ‘there’.

In many ways that’s all I wanted.  I’m sometimes in no place to revel and talk about how amazing a wine is.  Sometimes you want average, you want standard, and you want simple. Not that they make the best stories, but sometimes they make the best stories.

It’s the quietest I’ve ever seen the place, but it was mid afternoon, and that’s just how I liked it. A few quick pictures later and then I just sat there.  And I was happy. This isn’t just about people watching…

There’s art watching, display watching, and watching nothingness.  That’s meant in a good way.  I wasn’t bored, I was peaceful.  I don’t get that enough.

This town brings me peace that I know I can find within myself.  We all have it.  These days where I’m exhausted and spiritually drained, I keep coming back here and appreciating all the gems of this town.  I don’t know a lot of people, but then I start recognizing everyone.  There’s so much comfort in that.

I’m going to enjoy everything I can because this is what Annapolis does for me and so many others.  It’s a place of happiness, peace, love, community, and support of local.

I’ll have more to say on 49 West soon.

Bless you Annapolis, thanks for ongoing memories that have brought me peace.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

The Golden Elite

Expedition5

This is not the kind of completion of a trilogy I envisioned.   But after the past two stories (here and then here) from the same night, why not have a third bottle.  And we had at least three.  Some may never be written about.  I don’t remember.  And not so much because of the wine consumption.  It’s because right now I don’t remember.  Maybe I do, and maybe I’ll tap into that subconscious later.

This was once again a Christmas gift that I decided to share with the folks who presented it to me in the first place!   How perfect!  And 2015 Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon from Canoe Ridge Vineyard (here is their wine list, more about their winery, and online purchasing information) is perfect in so many ways.

ExpeditionCabernetSauvignon

I wrote about a similar experience and similar gift from this incredible winery over a year ago, and you can read that here.

This has black currant or red currant, or both, depending on who’s talking and who’s reviewing.  But currant to me is one of those additions to a wine that can make a wine, make a great wine better, or just put it over the top.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled but I can’t recall the last time I had a bad wine with currant playing a principle part.  It makes a wine smokier, gives it such structure, character, depth, and charm that I can’t fully put into words.  It just has a taste that feels and heals so familiar.

Expedition2

I love tea and currant in (black) tea are sometimes synonymous with one another.  But I think the familiarity comes from someone else.  It comes from family.  It comes from growing up, it comes from childhood, and it just comes from somewhere safe.  I know where it comes from.  Exchange currant for anything else, and you may have a feeling that’s similar.

That smokiness also comes from the flavors of plum, and maybe berries in the background.  Maybe just plum though.  And the lingering finish just stays with you. This wine just stays with you.  I feel like this wine was meant to find me.  And I feel the only way I should be drinking this is via a present or gift from beyond.

Expedition4

This is is a night that I’ll never forget.  It’s been over a month and I’m grateful some dear friends were there for me in the most vulnerable position one can be in.

I had the company of amazing people, amazing animal friends (3 Labrador Retrievers that I love so much), and the most incredible weather I can remember.

Expedition3

The wine is a bonus, it could’ve been the worst vino on earth and I’d find a way to find something good about it.  But I don’t need to.  This is my kind of wine and one of my favorite wines.  I loved everything about it.  I loved everything about this evening.  I don’t know what else there is to say.

I look forward to the next time I get together with my friends, under more joyous and celebratory circumstances, but in a way this was a celebration.  It’s a celebration of life, of happiness, that life is short, and that life is meant to be enjoyed.

I’m grateful to have such wonderful and kind people in my life, and I feel validated that myself and my family has done something right..  I feel touched and blessed by everything.

Candle

I’m grateful.

Love,

Ideen